6 Injuries Common Among Athletes

Jun 05, 2024
6 Injuries Common Among Athletes
Sports aren’t just fun — regular physical activity benefits your physical health and emotional wellness. However, it's easy to get frustrated if you have an injury. Here, learn about six common injuries and how they’re treated.

Even a minor sports injury can impact your ability to participate in the activities you love.

Unfortunately, sports injuries are common, but the good news is that with prompt medical care, most sports injuries heal quickly, helping athletes get back to their active lives. 

Joel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, and the team at Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC, specialize in treating a wide variety of sports injuries, including the six listed here.

1. Ankle sprains

A sprain happens when a ligament gets stretched beyond its capacity, typically from sports involving jumping or pivoting. Sprains also occur if you twist your ankle or fall on it.

The most common symptoms of ankle sprains include pain, swelling, and bruising. You might hear or feel a popping noise or sensation when the ligament stretches and “snaps back” into its position. In a very severe sprain, the ligament may tear.

Most sprains respond well to RICE therapy — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Physical therapy helps strengthen the muscles and improve stability and flexibility for recurrent sprains.

2. Plantar fasciitis

Your plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue stretching from your heel along the bottom of your foot, supporting your arch and midfoot region. Plantar fasciitis happens when this tissue becomes inflamed and irritated, often triggering tiny tears in the tissue.

Most people experience plantar fasciitis pain beginning in the heel area, and the heel may feel tender to the touch. Pain along the heel and sole tends to be worse in the morning or after being sedentary.

Plantar fasciitis is a common injury related to activities involving a lot of repetitive impacts, like running or jumping. Many people benefit from physical therapy, nighttime splinting, custom orthotics, and stretching exercises. Corticosteroid injections can help relieve severe inflammation that doesn’t respond to more conservative approaches.

3. Achilles tendonitis

The largest tendon in your body, your Achilles tendon, stretches from your lower calf muscle to your heel. Achilles tendonitis happens when the tendon is irritated and inflamed. 

Overuse, repetitive impacts, ill-fitting shoes, and tight calf muscles all contribute to Achilles tendonitis, causing pain, tenderness, and stiffness, especially when walking or other physical activity.

In addition to RICE therapy, Achilles tendon injuries typically respond well to physical therapy to build strength and improve flexibility and balance. We may recommend corticosteroid injections and custom orthotics, as well.

4. Broken toes

Toe fractures happen when one or more toe bones crack or break, typically from falls or other impact-related trauma. Less commonly, a toe fracture occurs when a toe gets twisted or bent too far.

Many toe fractures benefit from “buddy taping,” where medical tape secures the injured toe to its healthy, uninjured neighbor. Depending on the extent of your fracture, you may need to wear a cast or a protective boot and use a cane or crutch to keep weight off the toe while it heals.

5. Turf toe

Turf toe happens when the tough ligaments supporting the big toe are stretched too far, usually from bending your toe too far. Its name derives from the fact that it tends to be frequent in sports played on artificial turf surfaces, like football and soccer, or less commonly, on hard court surfaces, like basketball.

Turf toe symptoms include pain, swelling, and reduced range of movement in the toe. Activities like kicking or running can be especially painful. 

Typically, we recommend RICE therapy and splinting. Wearing a shoe with a rigid sole can provide support during healing, and some injuries may require a cast or boot. Surgery is recommended only for very severe cases that don’t respond to conservative management.

6. Stress fractures

A stress fracture is a small crack in bone, usually caused by overuse or repetitive use. Because your feet bear so much weight during sports, they are especially prone to stress fractures.

Stress fractures cause pain and swelling, along with tenderness when touched. Stress fractures usually respond well to rest and activity modification, often in combination with a cast or a boot. Physical therapy helps restore normal movement once healing is well underway.

Getting injured can be extremely frustrating, especially when that injury interferes with a sport you love. To learn how we can get you back on your feet as quickly as possible, request an appointment online or over the phone with the Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists team in Waterbury and Newtown, Connecticut, today.